Once the dust had settled, and the pain of having builders in private spaces for too long had faded, the inevitable questions arose. Why were these wonderful alterations not made years ago? And why did we not move out while work was in progress?
Both answers in this case undoubtedly relate to the marvellous benefits of working at home. None of which of course applied during the nine weeks of what was considered minor renovations. By then, favourite expressions like cost savings, flexibility, accessibility, peace and quiet, and no commuting, had become distant memories.
Another stark reality is that modern renovations in older houses hold many surprises. Contemporary designs and aesthetics do not necessarily sit well with antiquated electrics, plumbing or building methods. As a result, what started with good intentions on a wet winter’s morning, ended in a sigh of relief when the house was vacated, six weeks later than originally planned.
More than one dear lesson was learnt, notwithstanding the capabilities and obliging manner of the appointed building team, who occupied the guest suite from an outside back entrance so to avoid foot traffic through other living areas. Other than a speedy acquaintance with building supply stores, and tongue twisting plumbing terminology, what really matters is paying attention to detail during actual building proceedings.
However, despite several building mistakes which required rectification caused delays, there is nothing quite as pleasant as seeing a family appreciate greater functionality and comfort in their home. After starting out as two naive homeowners on a maiden voyage into the world of building, we gained a fortune of knowledge with greater appreciation for the building trade.
What causes delays in renovation projects?
Poorly communicated procedures
Contractors over committing themselves on managing different projects simultaneously
Building industry strikes
Ill health of project managers and staff
Weather conditions impacting on curing of surfaces
Stock shortages at suppliers
Why do building schedules and sequence of events need to be communicated?
Owners and builders need to co-ordinate ordering and deliveries of fittings, finishes and materials
To determine periods when certain living areas become inaccessible
To provide storage space for house contents
To retain functionality of at least one bathroom and kitchen tap at all times
Different fittings take place at various stages
Preparation is not to be underestimated
Allow sufficient time for clearing, packing and storage before builders arrive
Plan and manage excessive dust
Daily covering and cleaning of work surfaces with builders’ own equipment, including vacuum cleaner
Agree on exterior work and tap areas such as for mixing cement
Allocate under cover storage space for large items including scaffolding
Discuss storage and access of new deliveries as well as removed items
Ensure regular rubble removals to a registered site
Anticipate unexpected shopping expeditions
Supervision aids cost management
Daily consultations, progress reports, and plans between owners and supervisors
Stay within budget
Manage variations to order, progress payments and compare with original quotations
Before signing off, check original job descriptions which may impact on costing
Delays and remedies
Incorrect positioning of shower plumbing - removal, refitting, re-plastering and curing
Shattered shower enclosure - re-ordering and re-fitting by shower specialist
Incorrect building angle of shower lip for flow-off - re-building, re-tiling and re-fitting of edge trim
Broken window – slow crack caused during installation noted after sign off – self replacement and installation
Accidental dog paws through wet floor screed – manual sanding process
Most important lessons learnt
Anticipate unexpected extra costs
Cover everything irrespective of ‘no dust’ promises
Prevent sewerage blockages resulting from disposal of building materials
Obtain proof of National Builders Association South Africa registration
Finally, well managed renovations are worth the discomfort, and not quite true to the old saying: “May you have builders for the rest of your life.”